A minister has been at the same church for over 10 years and then retires … A minister requests “LSL” after being with a church for 2 years, after serving at various local churches for the previous 10 years … Read all scenarios here >>
Frequently Asked Questions
By contributing to MEBS an employer does not hand over any obligations regarding employees. MEBS simply acts as an external provision account for Long Service Leave Purposes. MEBS does not keep track of how much LSL a member has accrued. MEBS does not perform any payroll functions on behalf of an employer.
What is the purpose of a MEBS LSL (Long Service Leave) provision account?
The Ministers’ and Employees’ Benefits Scheme exists to provide a portable way to set aside funds for Long Service Leave. It is designed so that if a member moves between employers (e.g. churches) affiliated to Churches of Christ in Australia they retain the ability to take Long Service Leave.
Who is eligible to be a member?
Any Minister or employee of an organisation affiliated to Churches of Christ in Australia may become a member. There is a historical “code of honour” that Ministers will become members, and that churches will contribute towards future Long Service Leave.
How do I become a member of MEBS?
Please complete the standard application form and forward it to the MEBS office. Please note that no one automatically becomes a member.
When can I access the funds in the account?
Payment of funds to members can only occur after a five year waiting period from commencement of employment within Churches of Christ. (see next question about five year waiting period)
There are two ways to access the funds:
- You can take Long Service Leave over a specified period. The amount paid is your current weekly salary package multiplied by the number of weeks leave you are taking, up to the balance of your account.
- If you leave employment within Churches of Christ you may be eligible to close your account and have the balance paid out.
How do I apply for payment from MEBS for Long Service Leave?
Please use the standard form “Application for Long Service Leave.” Payment via a current employer is preferred, and is the most tax effective method for Ministers of Religion.
How do I close my account?
Please use the standard form “Application for Balance of Long Service Leave.” Payment via a current employer is preferred, and is the most tax effective method for Ministers of Religion.
What is the “five year waiting period”?
A five year waiting period (from the date of initial employment within Churches of Christ) applies before funds are available to a member. Please note that this does not mean five years continuous service. For example, if a member commenced on 1/1/2005 any funds in their account would be available to the member after 1/1/2010, even if the employee had only served for 1 or 2 years.
What period does a contribution to MEBS cover?
If paid as recommended a MEBS contribution covers the period from 1 March – 28 February in advance. Eg a contribution paid in March 2012 would cover 1 March 2012 to 28 February 2013
When can employers claim a refund of contributions made to a members account?
If a member leaves employment within Churches of Christ in Australia before their five year waiting period has been completed, contributing employers may claim a refund of funds contributed to the members account. Contributions are refunded after calculating interest earned and fees payable. It is the responsibility of contributing employers to claim any relevant refunds before the five year waiting period has been completed.
Eg An employee begins employment on 1/1/2005, and finishes employment on 1/1/2009. They do not go on to other employment within Churches of Christ. The contributing employer is eligible to claim a refund of contributions made until 1/1/2010 (using the “Long Service Leave Refund Request Form”).
What is a “grace period”? What happens if a minister leaves a church before the 5 year waiting period has finished, and does not know if he will continue employment within Churches of Christ in Australia
A 12 month “grace period” is given to MEBS members if they intend to continue employment within Churches of Christ. Typically, this gives a Minister an opportunity to find another church to serve in. If the member is not employed within Churches of Christ within 12 months of termination of employment an application for a refund by a contributing church will then proceed.
Is any interest earned?
Interest is credited to members account on 30 June each year. Interest earned is more than fees payable for the vast majority of accounts eg for accounts with balances approximately $1,000.00.
Are there any fees?
Current fees are:
- Annual account fee $36.00 pa
- Contribution fee 2.5% of each contribution made (once for each contribution)
- Eg An account which received $1,000.00 in contributions each year would pay $36.00 + $25.00 = $61.00 in fees each year.
- Withdrawal fee of $20.00 when withdrawing funds to take Long Service Leave
- Exit fee of $30.00 when closing an account and being paid the balance of account
How much should an employer contribute?
MEBS recommends that employers contribute 1.3 times their employees weekly salary package. This is an annual payment usually made in February or March. If payment is made later in the year we recommend 1.4 times weekly salary package to compensate for lost interest.
If we know who a member’s current employer is we will send an annual “Contribution Notice” as a reminder. Contribution Notices are sent in January of each year.
Should a part time minister join MEBS and receive contributions?
Yes! Part time ministers often serve within Churches of Christ for many years, and may also become full time ministers. For these reasons part time ministers should receive contributions into a MEBS account.
How much Long Service Leave have I accrued?
MEBS keeps track of a dollar amount available as provision towards future Long Service Leave. However, we do not keep track of your Long Service Leave accrued in terms of days and weeks. This is the responsibility of your employer (e.g. church or agency).
Is this account taxable?
All funds are held in trust as provision for future Long Service Leave entitlements. Tax must be withheld when payments of Long Service Leave funds are made, as these payments are treated the same as other salary payments.
Annual interest earned on an account does not need to be reported to the Australian Taxation Office, as the funds belong to Churches of Christ in Australia until paid out.
Is the balance of my LSL provision account reportable to Centrelink as an asset?
No. The balance in your account is provision towards a future salary payment. When payment is made to you the appropriate tax is withheld as a salary payment. The same amount cannot be treated as both an asset and a salary payment. Of course, when payment is made to you from your LSL provision account the income should be reported to Centrelink if required.
How does MEBS relate to legislative requirements?
Legislative requirements for Long Service Leave differ from State to State. These requirements must be kept by all employers regardless of what funds are available in any particular MEBS Long Service Leave provison account.
In the typical case of a minister who serves at different churches for 4 or 5 years, this minister never becomes eligible for Long Service Leave under the terms of any legislation, as each individual Church of Christ is regarded as a different employer. Under mutual agreement with an employer funds in a MEBS account can be used for “Long Service Leave” even though the legislative requirements are not met.
If I leave employment within Churches of Christ must I close the account?
No, the account may remain open
Does the payment from MEBS to prepay or reimburse for Long Service Leave cover superannuation contributions?
No. Funds paid cover all aspects of a salary package. However, Superannuation is an employer expense, not part of a salary package. This also means contribution calculations (which are based on weekly salary packages) should not include superannuation.
What are the benefits of belonging to MEBS?
A member belonging to MEBS can potentially access funds towards Long Service Leave sooner than legislation specifies (with mutual agreement from an employer). MEBS allows many members to take Long Service Leave who would otherwise never be eligible.
What are the benefits to an employer of contributing to MEBS?
By contributing to MEBS an employer ensures that funds are available to meet Long Service Leave obligations. In many churches keeping funds in a provision account over a long period of time (eg 7 to 10 years) is difficult, due to changing leadership and administration personnel. MEBS gives consistent administration to a long term provision account.
Contributing to MEBS also shows a positive spirit of blessing towards ministers and employees.
Who administers MEBS?
MEBS is currently being administered by Churches of Christ in Queensland via its finance arm – Centenary Development Foundation. Jason Gor and Kay Rademacher provide administration services to MEBS.
Who is responsible for the governance of MEBS
MEBS is overseen by a Committee appointed by the Board of Churches of Christ in Australia. The Committee members currently are:
Max Hopkins (Chair), Frank Moribito, Phil Burgess, Natalie Burgis, Ross Pelling.
How much Long Service Leave have I accrued according to law?
Please note that the following information is for general information only. For detailed guidelines please contact the appropriate State body. As each church and agency within Churches of Christ is treated as a seperate employer under law it is not usual for most members to qualify for Long Service Leave in the legal sense.
|LSL Across Australia|
|Qualifying period (years)||Leave Period||Pro-rata leave (on termination)|
|ACT||7 years||6.0667 weeks||5 years|
|NSW||10 years||8.67 weeks||5 years|
|NT||10 years||3 months||7 years|
|Qld||10 years||8.6667 weeks||7 years|
|SA||10 years||13 weeks||7 years|
|Tas||10 years||8.6667 weeks||7 years|
|Vic||10 years||8.6667 weeks||7 years|
|WA||10 years||8.6667 weeks||7 years|
Other Services – Funeral Expenses for Ministers
MEBS provides payment or reimbursement towards funeral expenses of $2,000.00. This applies to anyone who has served as a minister of Churches of Christ. The payment is a gift and does not relate to membership of MEBS. The form to apply for this payment can be downloaded from cofcaustralia.org/mebs/application.